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Sports Physiology

Sport physiology is the study of how exercise alters the function and structure of the body.


What Does a Sport Physiologist Do for Elite Athletes?

A sports physiologist seeks to understand the physiological demands of a sporting performance, which inform what characteristics an athlete should have to be successful competing at the highest level.  The physiologist can measure how an athlete performs in tests designed to accurately measure these characteristics, which in turn enables the practitioner to advise coaches and athletes about training and competition, with objectivity and individuality.

Physiologists also understand how the body responds and adapts to performing in different environments such as high heat or altitude.  In a sporting context, this understanding is important for informing preparation to compete in environmental extremes, or using an athlete’s adaptation to training in these environments as a performance enhancing training stimulus.

Sports physiologists need a deep understanding of the complex interactions of the body’s biological systems at rest, during exercise, and following chronic periods of exercise training, detraining and injury.


Why is there a Sport Physiology team at the UK Sports Institute (UKSI)?

The aim of physiologists working in a high performance environment is ultimately to improve physical performance as part of a multi-disciplinary team supporting coach and athlete.  The physiologist fulfils this role by providing objective measurement of data describing the physiological profile or physiological response of an athlete.  Most importantly, the physiologist is able to use that information to help coach and athlete maximise adaptation to training, inform decisions around ergogenic interventions and prescribe competition day strategies.


How does Physiology have a performance impact?

UK Sports Institute practitioners ensure that all their work is aligned to optimising the physiological determinants required to win in that sport or event.  This requires the development of a robust model describing the physiological determinants of success for a given event at the outset of working with a coach and athlete.  On top of excellent physiological knowledge, it is the physiologists ability to communicate, problem solve, be creative, adaptable and work as part of a multidisciplinary team that are vital to their success and impact.

UK Sports Institute Practitioners are pioneering in their translation of research to podium success.  The ability to take current research findings and mould them to fit the complex environment of elite sport, without compromising scientific integrity but maintaining feasibility of delivery  is an important skill set, and one which allows our practitioners to deliver performance impacting work throughout the Olympic and Paralympic cycle.  Furthermore, there is a vibrant research culture within the UK Sports Institute physiology team, allowing us to answer real performance questions and further push the boundaries of our knowledge of the elite performer.


To find out more about our Physiology team for elite athletes and how they can help you, get in touch today.